Do you know what the term Christian CEO means? That’s a Christian who attends church on Christmas and Easter only. Here in America it’s a fairly common practice. Another fairly common practice in America, among Christian believers, is to not attend church at all. I believe both of these groups are true followers of Jesus Christ, however, it’s clear the church has let them down. The church obviously is not providing them with anything they want.
On the other hand, there is another group of Christians who have become consumers of all things Christian. These believers attended church regularly to consume their spiritual experience. They buy the popular Christian books, they buy tickets to Christian concerts, and they buy a sticker to put on the back of their car to identify them as Christian. All of these things can be uplifting. All of these things can move you closer to God. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things unless you are taking it all in without ever giving anything back. Treating Christianity as a tool to help you feel good about yourself is what I’m calling consumer Christianity.
Consumer Christianity is part of our American culture. We have a tendency to believe we can purchase anything we need – even our spiritual connection to God. Some simply attend church to consume the message, dropping what is believed to be the appropriate fee in the offering plate as it goes by. While that may provide some temporary satisfaction, the true benefit of Christianity is far more profound.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)
To fully benefit from your relationship with Jesus and experience inexpressible and glorious joy you will need to begin to give more than you receive. Consumer Christianity isn’t found in the Bible. You cannot purchase inexpressible and glorious joy; you have to earn it in service to God.
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11 (NIV)
Your inexpressible and glorious joy is made complete when you keep the commands of Jesus. This cannot be consumed in a church service, at a Christian concert, or after reading a Christian book – it has to be earned by following Jesus
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 (NIV)
Service to God by serving others in love is the key to inexpressible and glorious joy. For some reason consumer Christians believe this can be purchased – and it cannot. Sadly, churches in America may be somewhat responsible for creating the consumer Christian. Churches in American are constantly providing more and more service perks to attract more attenders – better music, better children’s programs, more dynamic speakers – all catering to the consumer Christian. This may in fact be keeping some Christians away from church. A true believer will be looking for a way to serve God, not a consumable product. Rather than developing more attractive consumables, churches may have more impact if they help believers connect with ways to serve God by serving others.
If churches did a better job pairing those in need with those who have the desire and ability to help, they would be providing believers with a more tangible connection to God. Some churches might argue that their job is to provide worship service not social service; however, the devil is pushing many believers in America away from the church by convincing them there is nothing of benefit there. To combat this insidious attack, churches need to rethink what their mission is in today’s America. I believe that mission should be to disciple believers into true servants of God by helping them find ways to serve Him.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45 (NIV)
All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context. Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations. In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon. Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.